Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Shawwal 20, 1443 H
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A dark alley...

A window into contemporary Omani literature

The following are translations of poems from Zahir al Ghafri’s collection: Whenever an Angel Appeared in the Fort (Beirut: 2008)

A Dark Alley

No one in the dark alley but you

The mouth’s flower in the dark

You’re the woman of the last breaths

And empty archways.

Hands in water, knees in soil

Each signal from you is a high threshold to exile.

The sea before your door is the refuge for passers-by

The sea is white in your blue palm

And a mark of my love-stricken heart.

Rebellious memory stirred the autumn leaves

Under the door

You went to pick them up

I was the cold light wind.

Inspiration comes with no compass

Under the riverbank,

You’re the selfsame woman

In the street or the dark alley

Before others.

Did I say “gloom”?

Did you laugh at the spring that let us down?

Was winter what you meant?

This misunderstanding is a bow

Hanging in ice

Perhaps there should be... no end.


Should we have talked

While heavy clouds were hanging over our heads?

Was our talk like the throw of white dice

And did our spring happiness gush out

Like an archipelago of light?

Silence sails, on a light land, to Beirut

My life returns to the springhead

Like the mast of a prophetess

Carrying treasures and gifts.

These walls have never deserted me

Nor has this beauty that glitters

Over your black eyelid

Like lightning.

You’re, in truth, the enemy’s barking.

O enemy

My last glance was her resort that night,

Thus love sails with knee’s water

With the power of an angel on a bed

Between a mirror, a well and a blue closet.

Between the alleys barks the one that can’t

Be named.

Between the clouds as I fall asleep

There slip the white dice, the prophetess’ mast

The knee water, the mirror, the well and the blue closet

Into the fountain of happiness.


Said the sage.

Not Today, Not Tomorrow

Not today, not tomorrow

Not like this

Never like this.

You should wait till towers of silence rise from your bowels

Like someone hearing the posts

Collide with the howling of a wolf at night.

To be a man and woman at once

Near the riverbanks

The moment is the same: a skilled hunter

Like Hamlet’s madness at its height

Unarmed but with words

But with keys

Keys that are just a few dreams in your cold palm.

The grand miracle seeks that cloud of despair

As it beats on a horizon as a flag of sins.

Go alone if you wish

To reach the fort

But not today, not tomorrow.

You should also wait for savages who will come

You may find some solution

And write that verse.

Searching for a Dream

Not now...

This window won’t open but a small injury.

You dream like someone

Begging for sleep in the forest.


With a single stone throw

The dead wake up on the riverbank.

You walk on the edge of the world

To get to the valleys you lost.

On your way stones glisten

Like a golden memory.

The journey is very long

The wind goes after the hands’ waving

Despair lights your eyes dreaming of stars.

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